Did anyone else catch that incendiary Q&A between Keith Langlois and Joe Dumars? I sure did.
Let me begin by stating that the purpose of this interview was to provide an excuse for the Pistons marketing team to e-mail fans during a dead period. There is no new news, and it does not behoove the organization to drop bombs of candor on the offseason.
I should also state that I am relatively sanguine about this Pistons roster. I’m on board. I’m a team player. Keith's just doing his job. High fives.
But yeah, Frost/Nixon it ain't. Excerpts in bold. My commentary in not-bold...
Alright. Joe Dumars. Lots of questions. Let’s really cut to the chase and get to what is on every Pistons fan’s mind. Take it away Keith…
Keith Langlois: You brought eight new players in and the roster stands at 14 right now. I assume the 14 you have is the 14 you intend to take to camp.
Yes, that is why thousands of fans opened their e-mail. To determine precisely the number of players Dumars would be bringing in to training camp.
Joe Dumars: Yes, that’s who we intend to go to camp with. We will probably invite one or two extra guys to camp.
Great, I’m glad we cleared up this administrative matter. Let’s get to the meat. The real...
KL: Do you anticipate going into the regular season with 14 on the roster?
Oh for crying out loud. No, Keith, Joe expects one of the two random extra guys to make the roster. He is BANKING on it.
KL: This is probably an oversimplification, but when you look, a year later, what the Chauncey trade achieved was to allow you to shrink and make as painless as possible the transition period.
You can’t spell oversimplification without MCIAFI.
JD: When we had cap space maybe eight years ago, we made a decision then – there was a question back then about going out and trying to sign one big name with that money.
That year, the Pistons added Cliff Robinson, Zeljko Rebraca, Jon Barry and Damon Jones. Now that’s what I call setting expectations downward.
KL: As you sat there with cap space for a season, monitoring who was going to be a free agent, Ben Gordon was obviously a prominent name on that list. So I imagine you had interest in him all along.
That’s some nice detective work, there, Marge. Keith does force Joe to dodge a question about why we went above and beyond market value to sign Gordon, but he loses points for failing to ask a follow up.
KL: What do you see in Ben? He’s always been a phenomenal 3-point shooter. Especially for young guys to shoot 40 percent from the line, that’s rare and he’s done that throughout his career. He showed last year that he’s also a dynamic player off the bounce, too. The rap on him is he’s a mediocre defender and he’s one-dimensional. When that dimension is as dynamic as he is offensively, do you say you can live with whatever shortcomings he might have?
Keith has thoroughly answered his own question, which doesn’t leave Joe with much to say. Still…
JD: Absolutely. What he brings is a constant threat the minute he steps on the floor. What he brings is a guy that other teams have to prepare for.
About which competent NBA rotation player can this not be said? Do teams summarily fail to prepare for Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay?
Paul Millsap: Hey coach. Hornets tomorrow. Anything I should know about David West?
Jerry Sloan: No. He's not the type of player I recommend you think about ahead of time.
JD: With Jonas, with DaJuan Summers, especially with Austin Daye, with Charlie V, with Ben Gordon – there’s five guys we’ve added that can stretch the floor and we missed that last year.
It took me a second to realize that he is talking about Jonas Jerebko. Of all the five players mentioned, that’s the guy with whom we’re supposed to be on a first name basis? Is Sweden like China, where the first name is the family name?
JD: …So (Gordon’s) thing is, "I can play with Rodney Stuckey, I can play with Rip Hamilton, I can play with Will Bynum. Joe, I’m adaptable. I can make it work, because I’ve done it. I’ve done it my whole career." And he mentioned Chris Duhon as well over in Chicago.
I’m envisioning Ben Gordon listing the first set of players, take a long sip of coffee, and then mentioning Duhon just to break an awkward silence. Chris Duhon’s new nickname is Afterthought.
KL: Is it probably fair to say that (Gordon) might not start, but he’ll probably be finishing a lot of games?
JD: Well, I have to be careful not to start coaching here, but he is one of the best closers in the game, so I would just say you’re probably going to want your closers on the floor when that time comes.
I have to be careful not to start being snarky here, but you totally just did that which you said you needed to be careful not to do.
KL: But Rip, too, has been a good closer, so I assume that means a lot of a three-guard type of attack, which at the end of games seems to be a little more palatable to players than at the start. I know Rip wasn’t crazy about being a starting small forward because he felt it did wear him out a little bit.
Prediction: Joe will be suddenly more careful not to start coaching in 3, 2, 1…
JD: That’s where you give your coach options.
KL: That’s something that’s really changed in the NBA over the past five, six, seven years, even since you won the title – guys who can really attack in the NBA are more valuable than ever because of the NBA’s conviction on imposing sanctions on defense for touching people.
First of all, we won the title five years ago, which is within the range Keith provides. Further, the Pistons have geared their offense around guys who specialize in getting to the basket (and getting to the line) for the last decade. It was our team's only tool on offense last year.
Sigh... Stay tuned for part 2...